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Meet-and-greet planned for hospital board candidates

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Delta County Memorial Hospital is hosting a meet-and-greet for hospital board candidates Monday, April 16. The public is invited to attend this event in the Grand Mesa Oncology Center from 5 to 6 p.m., prior to the regular board meeting.

The hospital is a special taxing district in Delta County, as are the ambulance district, mosquito control district and fire districts. Each of those special districts cancelled the May 8 election because they had just enough candidates to fill available seats. Five candidates are seeking the three terms available on the hospital board. A sixth, Dick Gilmore, withdrew his name from consideration and has since declared his candidacy for county commissioner. He is a Democrat seeking the District 1 seat.

Hospital board candidates include Bruce Mixter, Tammy Smith, Doug Speedie, Robert Stechert and Wayne Wolf.

Mixter is a family physician who was associated with Delta Family Physicians for nearly 25 years. He retired in June 2017.

Because of his experience working at the hospital and with doctors, nurses and technicians, he believes he can serve as a liaison between the hospital board and hospital employees. He also understands how health care management is impacting patient care, not just from the physicians' standpoint but from the patients' perspective as well.

He was with Delta Family Physicians when the clinic was purchased by the hospital. It's very difficult for private practices to survive in the current medical environment, so many physicians are either retiring or becoming hospital employees. "The advantage is that you don't have to worry about business and can just take care of patients," he said. "The disadvantage is that you're not a boss any more. There's less independence, but fewer stresses."

Tammy Smith does not have a medical background, but served on the Delta County School Board for eight years, including two years as president. She understands how individuals from diverse backgrounds must set any personal agendas aside and work together to do what's best for the organization.

"I feel I could bring a neutral voice to the table," she said.

She and her husband have lived in the Hotchkiss area for almost eight years. She recognizes the hospital as a critical asset to the community, both economically and in terms of people's health.

Smith and her husband have lived in the Hotchkiss area for 38 years. She has held a number of jobs and is currently self-employed in sports equipment sales and shipping.

Doug Speedie, M.D., was associated with Internal Medicine Associates of Delta for 23 years before he went to work for Rocky Mountain Health Plans in 2005. In 2017, he welcomed the opportunity to resume working in Delta County and he joined the Delta-Montrose PACE

program as medical director.

He and his wife are residents of Orchard City. He is a member of the Orchard City Planning Committee and serves on the boards of Western Colorado AHEC and the statewide Colorado Physician Health Program.

"I have a deep and abiding interest in DCMH because I worked there for so many years, and my wife continues to work there," he said.

He said his first priority is to ensure the hospital's financial viability; the second is continued quality of care and continuing improvements at the hospital.

Bob Stechert is a retired AT&T attorney who moved to Delta County in 2001. He served on the school board four years and is currently chairman of the Delta County Planning Commission.

"I have always been interested in providing community service," he said. "That's why I ran for the school board and why I accepted an appointment to the planning commission."

His term ends in January and term limits prohibit him from seeking another term. With a general interest in health and the welfare of the community, he decided to run for the hospital board.

He attended the most recent hospital board meeting and said he was impressed with how professionally the meeting was conducted and the thoroughness of the discussions. In terms of the hospital's fiscal health, he said the annual report from the auditor was very positive.

Wayne Wolf, a resident of Delta County since 1972, was for many years involved in the operation of his family's ranch. The operation has been scaled back, leaving time for Wolf to pursue a Ph.D. in public policy and administration from Walden University. A member of the instructional staff at Colorado Christian University, he teaches online courses in leadership and ethics. With the completion of his Ph.D., he was moved to CCU's new public administration department.

Wolf also taught high school math at Vision Charter Academy and served as county commissioner from 2001 to 2009.

There are similarities between the county and the hospital, Wolf said. "When I ran for county commissioner, I thought the county was being run very well; I had no agenda. It's the same with the hospital board. I don't have an agenda, I have no bone to pick. I just want to contribute."

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